GDB 9.0: IS IT TOO EARLY FOR A MUST WIN

Jason Gregor
October 19 2013 08:05AM

Is game nine of an 82-game season too early for a "must-win" scenario? Mathematically it is, but what about mentally for a team that has lost five straight and has yet to win a game in regulation?

The Oilers haven't played awful, but they also haven't played well enough to win, and you wonder about the psyche of an organization with a young team, a new coach and a new general manager if the losses continue to mount.

One theory suggests you can't make the playoffs in October, but you can miss them. Statistically the odds are against you if you are too far out of the playoff cutline at the end of October, and while many players try to focus only on the next game it is virtually impossible to be unaware of your team's place in the standings.

Elliotte Friedman pointed out that over the last seven full length NHL seasons, only three of 32 teams that were four points out of a playoff position on November 1st managed to play a postseason game. I was curious to see which teams made the comeback.

In 2011, the Boston Bruins were 4-7-0 with eight points, four back of the 8th place Lightning, but finished the season in 2nd place in the Eastern conference. The Bruins went 45-22-4 in their final 71 games.

In 2010, the Buffalo Sabres were 3-7-2 with eight points, four back of 8th place. They went 40-22-8 in their final 70 games to finish in 7th place in the east.

In 2006, the Calgary Flames were 3-7-1 and seven points back of 8th place, but they managed to finish in 8th place. The Flames went 40-22-9 in their final 71 games to make the playoffs.

History shows it will be very difficult for the Oilers to make the postseason, if they aren't close to the playoff cutline in 13 days.

The Oilers are already seven points out of 8th place with six games to play before November 1st. This afternoon's game isn't mathematically a "must-win" game, but in order to stay within four points of the playoff cutline they have to win at least four, likely five, of their next six games.

Some have stated fans need to remain calm and don't panic, however, the statistics paint a different picture. The Oilers need wins, and they need them quickly.

LINEUP

Yakupov-RNH-Eberle
Hall-Arcobello-Perron
Smyth-Gordon-Hemsky
Brown/Gazdic-Acton-Jones

Head coach Dallas Eakins switched up his top two lines, by moving Nail Yakupov and David Perron away from their off wings. Eakins moved Yakupov to the left side, because he feels Yakupov can get more pucks to net, now that the puck won't be as exposed to the middle of the ice like it was on his off wing.

It will be interesting to watch and see if that is indeed the case for both Yakupov and Perron.

As I stated yesterday, Marc Arcobello's hockey sense has really impressed me. He's 2nd in the NHL in assists with eight, and despite not having any goals so far he has put himself in great positions to score. If he keeps playing like this it will be hard for Eakins to take him out of the top-six.

Smid-Petry
Ference-J.Schultz
Belov-N.Schultz/Grebeshkov

The final two pairings are a guess. Eakins might keep Belov and J.Schultz together, or he could switch things up. Denis Grebeshkov was recalled from OKC and he could play today. The Oilers didn't have a morning skate, so we won't know who is scratched until the warm up or moments before puck drop.

Dubnyk

He played his best game of the season in New York on Thursday, and if he plays like that today he'll give the Oilers a chance to win.

OUR CRYSTAL BALL

GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers have to win eventually don't they? They've won two straight in Ottawa, and they will make it three with a 4-2 victory.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: Arcobello's surprising start to the season continues as he picks up two more helpers and takes over the NHL lead in assists with ten.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The PK doesn't allow a goal for the first time this season, and to cap off their perfect afternoon of penalty killing Nugent-Hopkins scores a shorthanded goal, on a nifty assist from Arcobello. The shortie comes with Ryan Jones in the penalty box for instigating a fight with Joe Corvo. Neither player had any PIMs prior to the dust up.

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR 

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#151 sizedoesmatter
October 20 2013, 06:54AM
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Sorry robin taking a wide stance is exactly the same as sticking your leg out. He should be suspended.

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#152 madjam
October 20 2013, 09:51AM
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sizedoesmatter wrote:

Sorry robin taking a wide stance is exactly the same as sticking your leg out. He should be suspended.

Yes , but almost all players do it including Hall on Clutterbuck . Not often does it create injuries , however . More bruising and charley horse type stingers . It's an action easy to disguise , and thus suspension very seldom applied unless very flagrant which this was not , even if it was purposeful .

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#153 DrunkGuyTy
October 19 2013, 08:31AM
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Wasn't there a stat last year that gave us a brief glimpse of hope? Something to the effect of being in the playoff race by xx date indicated there was a high probability we would make the playoffs?

Maybe we can buck this stat too.

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#154 dv.asteroid
October 19 2013, 09:11AM
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Win. Hit. Play. Believe. Oilers! ( say these words into the universe, repeat aloud or in thought throughout game)( I ask this, for I cannot watch or listen, I'm working at women's prison, no contraband allowed). Believe.

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#155 Ea Sports Statistics Guy
October 19 2013, 09:11AM
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They're $hittie wrote:

Remember in NHL '98 when you could trade a 68 rated player for a 72 rated player for a 76 for an 80 for an 84 for an 88 and so on, all the way to Jagr?

So, why is Perron not a consideration to move? Eventually we'll have Crosby.

Comment of the year on last post! Thought you had to move up 2 overalls at a time though not 4. I miss the staois for seabrook trades. Why wont chicago play by the nhl 08 rules/

You can still make those trades, you just need to use draft picks now. Or sign FA and use them. Ryan Whitney is a perfect example. #easports #itsinthegame

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#156 Soccer Steve
October 19 2013, 09:49AM
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They're $hittie wrote:

Remember in NHL '98 when you could trade a 68 rated player for a 72 rated player for a 76 for an 80 for an 84 for an 88 and so on, all the way to Jagr?

So, why is Perron not a consideration to move? Eventually we'll have Crosby.

Comment of the year on last post! Thought you had to move up 2 overalls at a time though not 4. I miss the staois for seabrook trades. Why wont chicago play by the nhl 08 rules/

Appreciate the appreciation but you should name your sources. ;-)

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#157 Serious Gord
October 19 2013, 12:15PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

In the article you'll see that Calgary made playoffs after being 7 points back at end of October. Very rare, but it happened once in last 7 years.

Thx for the info.

This we need to follow cgys lead...

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#158 Jimmie
October 19 2013, 12:28PM
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Serious Gord wrote:

Wicked hot chick sitting right behind Eakins...

Gregor's girlfriend???

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#159 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
October 19 2013, 12:43PM
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Grebby's +2 so far. Never would've guessed that.

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#160 Smokey
October 19 2013, 12:51PM
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Braindead penalty for Smyth. Should of left it alone. Was obvious Person was pushed. Oilers penalty kill is too damn passive once again. Ottawa's puck movement is good, but not great, and Dubby's had to look good.

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#161 Wax Man Riley
October 19 2013, 01:30PM
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Hall's knee :(

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#162 God
October 19 2013, 02:49PM
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Just checked the score. What happened to Hall?!?!?!?!

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#163 OttawaOilFan
October 20 2013, 05:30AM
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OttawaOilFan wrote:

This is my fist fist on a GDB ever! WOOT! Have 4 dinners on the line with the family over this game! COME ON BOYS! I'm saying a 2-1 win in a shoot-out. Yak gets his first along Arcobello getting the winner in the SO! Love the Oilers no matter what. Through thick and thin these are my boys!!

Welll I got the goal scorers wrong but booked it right with the score itself. And on too of that, free dinners! Life is good today! There are still things to work on for us and we stole a game that based on the stats say we should have lost. This is something we should be doing. Through the good and the bad, I love this team no matter what. Pretty or ugly a win is a win. Like I said we still have things to work on and a long road ahead but the journey of a thousand miles (or 82 games in this case) begins with a single step (or regulation win). Thank you Oilers for helping crush the hopes of my family and their dreams of a Senators win.

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